Timing of US drone delivery to Ukraine revealed
A contract to supply ten ‘kamikaze drones’ to Ukraine, which was announced months ago, is expected within 30 days, Defense News reported on Monday, citing a Pentagon spokesperson.
The actual delivery date for the weapons, Switchblade 600 loitering munitions, also known as ‘kamikaze drones’, will be set after the contract is finalized, the representative, Jessica Maxwell, said in an email, the military news website said.
A loitering munition is a type of drone that has integrated explosive payloads. They conduct reconnaissance to find a target and then crash into it to inflict damage.
The US sent the smaller, lighter Switchblade 300 drones produced by AeroVironment to Ukraine in a number of weapons packages. The Pentagon also said in early April that it wanted to deliver ten of the heavier, longer-range models, but no shipments have been made so far.
According to Defense News, the delay was partially due to the fact that the Switchblade 600 is still in the prototype phase and needs to undergo evaluation before being fielded.
Last month, Ukrainian Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov called on nations arming his country to send new advanced weapon systems so they can be put to the test in live combat.
“We are sharing all the information and experience with our partners. We are interested in testing modern systems in the fight against the enemy and we are inviting the arms manufacturers to test their new products here,” Reznikov said at the time.
The Switchblade 300 is considered an anti-personnel weapon, has a range of 10km and endurance of ten minutes, according to the producer. The heavier 600 version was designed for use against armored targets, can travel up to 40km, and stay in the air for up to 20 minutes.
The drones were touted as a portable tool for US patrols ambushed in Afghanistan, an affordable and more rapid alternative to calling for air support.